Perhaps there’s that one vehicle from Europe that you’d do anything to acquire. Most of us do. But can you import any European car? Are there restrictions?
The United States has placed some restrictions on particular vehicles entering the country, and so it’s always best to check if your car import is eligible to avoid issues.
Typically, all vehicles entering the country must be made to US specifications. And are there exceptions? Indeed, there are!
Special Cases for Importing Cars into the US
Importing a European Classic Car
If you’re a classic car fantatic, Europe is the best source for your antique. The cost of classic European cars has been going down, and the variety in the continent is enormous. You’ll indeed find a classic car that tunes your heart and doesn’t hurt your wallet. But there’s a caveat!
For starters, the car must be more than 25 years old since its production. Gladly, you can import the vehicle as a classic car without conforming to the stringent EPA or the DOT Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.
If you’re a visitor or non-resident of the US, you have a temporary car import privilege for up to one year.
However, the car import must correspond with your arrival in the US.
Cars imported this way may not be required to conform to US standards, but you cannot sell them. The vehicle imported through the visitor privileges must leave the country before the end of the one year.
This type of temporary import is common for events, races, and tours.
Vehicle Import by a Foreign Government or Military
You can get official orders from the government to import a vehicle. If approved, such a vehicle is duty-free and requires no modifications.
However, you must return with the vehicle when the time comes to return home. You may not sell the car and you’ll also need the European government’s approval.